Can Online Music Courses Be As Effective As Traditional Teaching Methods?

March 25th, 2013 No Comments Other

Kid playing guitar

As online education becomes increasingly popular, the question of whether or not it can be as effective as traditional face-to-face lessons and on-campus schooling is being raised., an online platform for debates and open forum communication, recently held a survey to get an answer to this very question. Nearly 60% of those who took part in the survey said that an online education could be equally as effective as on-campus schooling while 42% said it was still not up to par.

A study conducted by the Babson Research Group showed that in 2002, only about 2% of students were taking online courses, but by 2010, that number had increased to 30%. Projections also show that by 2016, around 50% of students will be taking online courses.

But although online education is slowly gaining acceptance, is it truly possible to learn anything online? Online courses for certain areas of learning are still controversial, especially when it comes to language-learning or music.

However, with many schools facing severe budget cuts, pupils who can’t afford private music lessons are turning to online courses and even YouTube as a way to learn.

Obviously, the quality of instruction received from YouTube videos is hit and miss, but what about courses designed by professional musicians and/or educators?

One company that is testing this theory is the Piano Encyclopedia, a website dedicated solely to teaching people how to play the piano without the help of expensive lessons or private tutoring.

The website provides students with a piano-learning community and a comprehensive home study piano course, and judging from the many testimonials by satisfied students, its teaching methods have been successful.

One of the main differences between learning to play music through traditional methods and learning to play online is that online students often learn to play by ear, while students who learn from an instructor are taught to memorize notes and follow certain rules.

In this way, online lessons allow for a bit more freedom; students aren’t restricted to a certain list of approved songs and are able to choose a wider variety of learning material that appeals to them, which can keep them from getting bored or feeling unmotivated.

Mobile technology is also making online music education more effective, and with a host of new apps for tablets and smartphones that teach everything from notes to pitch, students can take their learning with them wherever they go.

Guitar Pro, an innovative learning tool created by Arobas Music, is just one example of the many products out there designed to help people progress with their music, without the help of a traditional music school or teacher.

The software program offers guitarists everything from tuners and metronomes to lessons that help them improve their technique and even the ability to create their own instrumental tracks.

Linda Resseguier, marketing manager at Arobas Music, shared her view on online courses saying;

“For beginners, [online] courses can help them to get a feel for the instrument and play a few simple songs. For an intermediate or advanced player, they can be really useful to learn a specific style of guitar playing or simply improve playing skills while having fun.”

However, while she believes that online courses and mobile apps can be good supplementary tools, she also feels that for those who are looking to reach a higher level, there is no substitute to face-to-face music lessons.

 “If you really want to learn a musical instrument and reach a satisfying playing level, you will need a good teacher,” says Linda. 

“A teacher will listen to the student’s needs and create specific content to help them make progress, have fun and stay motivated to practice once the initial enthusiasm wears off.” 

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Marianne Stenger is a London-based freelance writer and journalist with extensive experience covering all things learning and development. She’s particularly interested in the psychology of learning and how technology is changing the way we learn. Her articles have been featured by the likes of ABC Education, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker, and Psych Central. Follow her on Twitter @MarianneStenger.

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